Hands On Tokyo

Hands On Tokyo addresses the critical needs of the community by partnering with other organizations focusing on environmental, educational, and social issues in Tokyo. Through such partnerships, we provide numerous opportunities for any individual or corporation looking to engage in direct volunteer service and community participation. Our vision is to empower volunteers so that they can be confident that their contribution can change lives of others.
Oct 31, 2016

Day of Service 2016

Teen Board at Day of Service 2016
Teen Board at Day of Service 2016

 At the 2016 Day of Service on October 23, 2016, the Hands On Tokyo Teen Board, consisitng of representatives from the International Schools of the Kanto Region, provided several game booths for many children to enjoy. The games centered around a petting zoo and several concession stands. The activites attracted many oncomers, offering prizes in exchange for free play! Organizing the booths required monthly Teen Board meetings to plan and select roles for representatives. Members of the Teen Board are also Hands On Tokyo club leaders for their respective schools. Therefore, gathering supplies, volunteers, and thinking of games turned out to be a breeze. Eventually during the montly sessions, it was decided that each Teen Board member would organize their own activity for the Day of Service, which would make it easier for every school to communicate with their Teen Board member and organize amongst themselves. 

On the Day of Service, the Teen Board had mini golf, baseball, target pitching, super ball scooping, bean bag toss, and traditional Japanese toys (Kendama, Daruma-Otoshi, and Koma) activities set up. All in all, the game booths turned out to be a great success. Many children lined up to play and hoped for prizes. The games absolutely added to the overall liveliness of the event. Efficient and Effective, the Hands On Tokyo Teen Board enjoyed being a part of the memorable Day of Service, and the valuable volunteer experience that came along with this day.

In addition to running the game booths, the Teen Board was also responsable for recruiting volunteers from our schools. We hung up posters and talked about the Day of Service event during school assemblies. As a result, there were a lot of high school students who signed up to participate through the Hands On Tokyo website. In general, the Teen Board helps promote a variety of Hands On Tokyo events at our schools. We encourage our classmates to volunteer at events such as the Motor Development Program. It is an ideal opportutunity for students to give back to the community.

The Hands On Tokyo Teen Advisory Board welcomed new members from the Christian Academy in Japan this year. On the Day of Service, we also met Zama American High School who expressed interest in joining the Teen Board. Finally we welcomed new members from the International Schools of the Kanto region to fill in the role of the departing seniors.

Last year, the Teen Advisory Board held our annual charity concert at the International School of Sacred Heart. The concert attracted performers from various schools and over 100 attendees came to the event. From playing the ukelele to singing, our performers showcased a wide range of talents. We hope to continue this project again this year. The concerts the previous two years have proven to be extremely successful. Futhermore the profit made from the charity concert will will be used to fund an end of the year project the Teen Board decides on very soon.

We would like to thank you for your donations this and last year through GlobalGiving. With your support, the Teen Board was able to carry out a children`s home painting project led by the Saint Mary`s School. In addition to painting the locker rooms in preparation for the summer, our volunteers gardened, washed cars, and cleaned the area around the pool. 

This year we would like to continue reaching out to the community and plan projects that will leave a lasting impact. These projects are possible because of your generous donations, and we hope you will continue to be a part of our projects. Again, we thank you for all your help through GlobalGiving that enables us to be change makers in the Tokyo region. 

Game Booth at Day of Service 2016
Game Booth at Day of Service 2016
Teen Board Monthly Meeting
Teen Board Monthly Meeting
Oct 31, 2016

Families Returning Home in Minami Soma

Cleaning the local family`s home
Cleaning the local family`s home

In September, we took 26 volunteers to a district in Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture, where former residents were finally allowed to return to their homes for the first time in July after having to suddenly evacuate more than five years ago. Their homes are still in disarray and their properties are severely overgrown from the earthquake that preceded the tsunami. 

We helped a local family discard unnecessary material from their home. This involved physically moving the materials from outside of their homes, dismantling furniture, and sorting the trash according to local garbage recycling rules. Afterward we cleaned the interior of the home. 

The father of the local family we helped was very grateful for the assitance we were able to provide, saying he could not have managed such a physically and emotionally difficult task without our assitance. He and his family can now focus on moving forward and rebuilding. 

Our volunteers were deeply touched by this experience, as they could witness firsthand how the 2011 Fukushima disaster impacted residents. The volunteers said they could not imagine the enormity of the tasks involved in actually moving back into one`s former home after more than five years away.

We also helped an elderly woman by clearing out, weeding, pruning her yard and garden. Her husband has unfortunately passed away, and it was physically impossible for her to tend to these tasks herself. Most of the former residents who are returning to Minami Soma are senior citizens and it is very hard for them to do labor intensive work. We were delighted to this work for her.

It was astounding to wtiness what our volunteers could accomplish in only two days. Our volunteers were also suprised by how much work still needs to be done in Minami Soma and other communities in Tohoku. The media has reported that people are moving out of their temporary housing and returning to their homes. Therefore the public has the impression that things have returned to normal in Tohoku, but this is not the case. 

The reality is that these families face enormous challenges in trying to return to their former homes after more than five years away. Hands On Tokyo volunters can make a real difference in helping families make a smooth transition into living in their old homes. We hope to bring more volunteers to Minami Soma and other communities in Tohoku for as long as individuals are in need of our help.Specifically, we hope to bring volunteers to help local farmers in the area reestablish their livelihoods in the near future. 

There is still so much to be done in Tohoku, and there is still so many people in need of our encouragement and assistance. Thank you for your support, and we hope we can count on your continued support in the future. Projects like these would not be possible without our donors. You have touched the hearts and souls of many people in Tohoku, and the residents of Minami Soma and Hands On Tokyo are so grateful for your help.

Pruning trees at senior resident`s home
Pruning trees at senior resident`s home
Aug 29, 2016

Hands On Tokyo Tohoku Summer Report

Summer is the peak growing season and a very busy time for farmers. Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Growing rice, vegetables and fruit is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
On June, 14 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped Saito-san and his wife tend to this year's growing season by pulling weeds from hothouses and by preparing nets so that this year's paprika plants can grow strong and produce many paprikas. 
 
In August, we took 15 students from a children's home in Tokyo and 9 other volunteers to Yamamoto-cho. The students and other volunteers helped a local strawberry farmer and his wife and son prune strawberry plants.  
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families days to complete.  Our volunteers also appreciate how hard farmers work throughout the year whenever they see fruits and vegetables for sale at their local supermarkets. 
 
With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives.
This summer we also made two trips to Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture.  Ogatsu was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment. 
In June, 14 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped weed, fertilize, plant seeds and clear away leaves and dead flowers at the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory.  And in August, 15 students from a children's home in Tokyo and 9 other volunteers helped weed the lavender plants at the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory.  A local resident founded the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory after the tsunami so that former residents and visitors could once again see beauty when they first enter the Ogatsu area.  She harvests the lavender and sells lavender potpourri in order to help defray the costs of maintaining the garden. 
Our volunteers who traveled to Ogatsu in June and August also learned about Ogatsu's rich history of slate craftsmanship and the devastating impact of the tsunami. These presentations create lasting bonds between Tohoku residents who have experienced more than one can imagine and our volunteers who want to continue helping Tohoku as much as they can.  
With your generous support, we hope to be able to continue bringing volunteers to Ogatsu.
Since our last report, we also had two new Tohoku projects.  
In July and with the support of generous sponsors and individual donors, we helped bring a group of 19 junior high school baseball players from Kesennuma and Minami Sanriku in Tohoku to Tokyo for a 3-day baseball training camp with 21 junior high school baseball players from Minato-ku (in Tokyo) and their coaches.  
These school kids from Tohoku have grown up in the aftermath of the tsunami, many living in temporary housing with their surviving family members.  It has been very hard for school sports teams to practice as school sports fields in Tohoku have been used for temporary housing sites for the past 5.5 years.  We wanted to create a Tohoku Project for some of these children to help them get extra sports training, to help them create new, happy memories and to have them bring their lessons learned and new athletic skills back to Tohoku. 
The project involved boot camp training, coaching by two Japanese baseball players who played on Major League Baseball teams in the United States, two baseball games (which were won by the Tohoku team) and a day at Tokyo Dome to see the Tokyo Giants practice and then play against the Yakult Swallows. The Tohoku baseball players also engaged in volunteering by helping pick up debris in the Roppongi area before going to Tokyo Dome.  It was a very moving and impactful experiences for all the participants and the volunteers who supported the event. 
In August, we took 15 students from a Tokyo children's home and 9 other volunteers to a district in Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture where the former residents were allowed to return to their homes for the first time in July after having to suddenly evacuate more than 5 years ago.  Their homes are still in disarray from the effects of the earthquake that preceded the tsunami and their yards are overgrown.  We helped a local music teacher by clearing out, weeding and pruning her yard and garden. 
She was overjoyed and practically in tears when she drove home after we got there and saw how much had been done.  Most of the former residents who are returning are in their late 60s and older and it is very hard for them to do this kind of labor intensive work. 
She told the volunteers about her experiences on the day of and immediately after the triple disaster, how hard it is to get repairs done on homes given labor shortages and the high cost of supplies and how in many respects it feels like Fukushima has been forgotten.  
We will take another group of volunteers to Minami Soma in September and hope to bring more groups of volunteers there as long as people need help getting resettled in their homes.  
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still so many people in need of support and encouragement. Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. 
 
   

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